Meet The Team - Gerhard Wevers
23 May 2021
In this edition, we introduce you to our newest Trainer on the NZQC block, Gerhard Wevers who comes to us from ESR and will be taking us for our upcoming courses in ‘Measurement Uncertainty’ and ‘Method Validation’. We are lucky indeed to have his expertise as a trainer and we have asked him a few questions below to give our readers a sneak peek into the ‘behind the scenes’ or more like ‘outside the training room’ Gerhard.
Q. Gerhard, please tell us a bit about yourself?
A. I have a New Zealand Certificate in Science (NZCS - Chemistry Option) and have worked at ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited) and its predecessor DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) in Mt Albert, Auckland since the mid-eighties. Initially, I was employed as a lab attendant until 1987 where I got a position as a technician in the Food and Applied Chemistry laboratory. This was a great laboratory to work in as I was exposed to a large number of analytical chemistry techniques and instrumentation. In 1996, I transferred to the Physical Evidence section of ESR, where I was a Senior Technician carrying out forensic analyses on trace evidence (glass, paint, fibres) and ignitable liquids (suspected arson cases). In 2000, I got a Senior Forensic Scientist position in the Physical Evidence section, where my duties include the examination and interpretation of firearms and ammunition, tool marks, shoeprints, ignitable liquids, substance identification and trace evidence. I also attend firearm-related crime scenes anywhere in New Zealand. My current position is Science Leader within the Physical Evidence section.
Aside from casework, I lecture at the Forensic Post-graduate course at the Auckland University and have also written workshops on statistics and evidence interpretation and have presented these within ESR, Australia and in Singapore.
Q. Knowing your expertise in forensic investigations, how far would you say is reality from what we are used to watching in crime scene investigation series on TV?
A. To be honest I have never watched any of the Crime Scene Investigation series.
Q. Not surprised Gerhard given you do it in real life anyway! What motivated you to become a scientist and a forensic scientist at that?
A. I’ve always had a strong interest in NZ natural history and wildlife and was interested in a science degree that would allow me to work somewhere in this field. However, after leaving school and doing a labouring job for a period of several months, I got a job at Chemistry Division, DSIR as a lab attendant. The plan was to do this job until the end of the year and then go to University. However, I was given the opportunity to do a NZSC through DSIR and never attended university. As I didn’t have a degree, I didn’t think I would be able to become a scientist, so in the late 90s I started studying toward a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering (NZCE - Electrical) as I had an interest in instrumentation. However, three years into this I got a Senior Scientist position and had to stop studying towards the NZCE due to the amount of study and training required for the scientist role.
So, in short, I never planned to become a Forensic scientist when I left school (actually I had never heard the term forensic until I started working at DSIR) and basically just fell into the role. I have been very fortunate in the opportunities I have been given in my career to date. I have also been lucky enough to have travelled a lot internationally, either for training or as a trainer to countries such as Fiji, USA, Australia, Singapore, Austria and Palestine.
Q. What aspects of training do you enjoy or are looking forward to most?
A. I very much enjoy learning and teaching. The workshops that I have written to date (Statistics and Evidence Interpretation, Measurement Uncertainty and Method Validation) required a large amount of research and study. However, I get a lot of satisfaction when I deliver the material.
Q. How do you like to spend time away from work?
A. I have a large number of projects which I enjoy doing. I have restored a number of motorbikes and am restoring my first car, which I hope to complete before fossilised fuels run out. I am a keen beer brewer and use to compete in brewing competitions, however, now I prefer to just brew for enjoyment rather than competition. I do all the house renovations in the places I have owned. I also like to run and cycle, although this seems to becoming less frequent these days. Travel was also high on my priorities, however that isn’t happening at present for some reason.
Q. What is your source of inspiration in your life?
A. There are people who impress me with their can-do approach, such as John Britten and Burt Monroe, but I don’t really have a source of inspiration (other than limited time).
Q. Do you have any inspirational message that you might like to share with our readers?
A. Be honest, learn from your failures and never blame others for your own shortcomings. There is only one person responsible for your actions and that is yourself.
Thank you Gerhard for opening up to us! We look forward to welcoming you and taking our participants on our amazing capability journey.